• Rolling blackouts possible in Big Bear this week September 16, 2019
    On Sept. 16 Bear Valley Electric Service reported the possibility of potential two- to four-hour rolling blackouts during the next four days.
  • A 31-year-old Big Bear resident arrested on child pornography charges September 13, 2019
    San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Crimes Against Children arrested Adam Lara on Sept. 12 after child pornography was found on a digital account belonging to Lara.
  • Jack Roberts resigns as airport general manager September 12, 2019
    The Big Bear Airport District board of directors has accepted general manager Jack Roberts’ resignation effective Friday, Sept. 13.
  • Closed meetings raise red flags September 11, 2019
    Jack Roberts, general manager of the Big Bear Airport District, is out of the office. His leave was not reported as action by the Big Bear Airport District board of directors, which is a violation of the Ralph M. Brown…
  • Ready to serve Big Bear community September 11, 2019
    Perri Melnick was tired of feeling stress every time the family left its Big Bear home and headed back to Los Angeles. So the Melnicks decided to move full-time to their mountain getaway in June.
  • Big Bear Planner September 11, 2019
    Send event, club and nonprofit meeting announcements for listing in the Big Bear Planner to kportie.grizzly@gmail.com or call
  • LifeStream returns for blood drive September 11, 2019
    The LifeStream bus returns to Big Bear Lake Saturday, Sept. 14, for a community blood drive at Starbucks from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Putz gives state of city at Republican meeting September 11, 2019
    The Big Bear Valley Republican Assembly meets Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Nottinghams Restaurant & Tavern. There is a social hour at 5 p.m. followed by the meeting at 6 p.m.

History

Big Bear was originally inhabited by the Serrano Native American tribe. In the 1800’s and prior, the area was teaming with huge grizzly bears and other wildlife. As today, it was a winter wonderland in cold months and a sunny, warm spot in the summer. These days it is best knows as the most popular Southern California ski destination, as well as a great place for summer sports like boating, camping, and fishing. While many people contributed to the popularity of the now year-round mountain resort, a few include:

In 1845, the mayor of little Los Angeles, Benjamin Wilson, discovered Big Bear Valley. He was chasing an Ute Chief named Walkara into the Santa Ana Canyon of San Bernadino. There, high into the forest, Wilson and his team found a pristine village teaming with wildlife, namely grizzly bears. For this reason, the area was called Big Bear Valley.

In the 1860’s, William Holcomb was hunting for bear. He unexpectedly stumbled onto gold in the valley. This began Southern California’s largest gold rush and brought an influx of residents to the area.

In 1888, the first Big Bear area hotel was built in 1888. The builder, Gus Knight, was just 21 years old. He felt sure the lake would bring visitors to the area.

In 1912, a resident named Kirk Phillips created a bus line that ran from San Bernadino below into the mountain region of Big Bear Valley. He got the idea while on a trip in New York City where he saw a bus line created by rows on trucks where passengers sat. His bus line to Big Bear was nothing fancy– just trucks with several rows of seats. This route, called the Mountain Auto Line, greatly increased the numbers of people travelling back and forth to Big Bear. The trip previously took two days using carriages.

In 1921 the Stillwells Lodge and Ballroom was opened by Carl and Mamie Stillwell. It quickly became famous throughout Southern California for dancing and live music by the lake. Visitors could take a swim in the pool, dine at the restaurant, play a game of tennis, or take a boat ride on the lake all from the same place. Popular bands played on site constantly, so this was a place everyone wanted to see.

Also in 1921, another soon-to-be famous landmark opened–Pan Hot Springs Hotel. Emile Jesserun bought dozens of acres of land that included a local hot spring and built the hotel on this land. This was the area’s first major resort. It was destroyed by fire in 1933.

In 1947 Tommy Tyndall, a young but expert skier, started ski schools and the Big Bear Winter Club. He decided to open a ski resort and found an ideal spot east of Big Bear Lake. In 1952, this site became the now famous Snow Summit.

During the 1950’s, Big Bear changed from a summer resort area to a year-round resort due to the growing popularity of downhill skiing. In the 1980’s snowboarding debuted and this sport also gained popularity, as did Big Bear where people flocked to do it from Southern California and beyond. Read about or, even better, visit the Big Bear Museum. This historical landmark is located in Big Bear City at the eastern end of Big Bear Airport on Greenway Drive.